It was in late March of 2016 that I first met Greg Chapman. Knickerbocker MFG Co, where my studio is located, was co-hosting an intimate dinner with WWD at our factory during the Men's Wear Summit with some of the leading menswear designers and industry executives and Greg—brand consultant and creative director—was sitting right across from me. Prior to that dinner, I'd only ever seen him in the pages of Amy Leverton's book, Denim Dudes and walking the floors of the various tradeshows and industry events we both frequent. Needless to say, I knew him as the kind of man with style I admired. It wasn't until later that I learned his style was only the tip of the iceberg for a man with serious fashion industry expertise and creative direction.
In the short time since Greg and I first met, we've quickly become good friends—sharing many dinners, perhaps too many drinks and enough laughs to keep us wanting to come back for more. As much as his friendship, I've come to value his insight in the industry as a man who's worked with some of the best brands and not only understands what makes a great brand but deeply values the ones who are built with integrity and soul. I'm glad to call Greg a friend and mentor and happy to be able to offer this short interview with you of some of his career highlights, inspiration and, most importantly, advice on the best shopping from London to LA to New York. Enjoy!
As a brand consultant/creative director can you describe what you do and how you help brands.
My last full time position as a creative director was with H.W. Carter and Sons where I found a trend in the industry toward heritage men's brands; and, so, I was given the opportunity to re-launch one of the oldest work wear brands in America. This still stands as one of the highlights of my career so far. As Creative Director I managed the whole creative side of the business from designing and sourcing fabrics and garments to opening the store. I was lucky that I had a great team. We all had the same taste and a great work ethic. In addition to building the creative team, my responsibilities included everything from choosing what we were going to design to how to develop the brand to selecting the brands for the store and even choosing light bulbs and shopping bags.
Today, as a freelance creative consultant I now help brands with design marketing, product placement, etc... It's a lot of fun, constantly evolving and there's always something new to work on.
How did you get started in the fashion industry?
I knew I wanted to working in the industry from the age of six when I made an apron for my mum. I had an idea as to what I wanted it to look like and I would not compromise or substitute any of the fabrics. My poor teacher had to go to the store and buy some white fabric herself and that was my first creation.
I loved the feeling I had from having an idea in may head, then seeing the final product looking like what you had imagined.
My family worked in antiques so I was always around the flea markets and just knew that it was in my DNA to work in the garment industry, I learnt so much from all the vintage clothing vendors and still do today.
Later, I worked retail and became a buyer, from there I learned more about how garments are made—I mean the full production cycle—as well as the intricacies of product pricing. My path went into more retail and then in my early twenties I branched out on my own by dealing in vintage clothing and dead stock sneakers.
What are some of the brands you've worked with?
Some of the significant ones are Fred Perry, Urban Outfitters as head of menswear, Schott who brought me to the US to relaunch the brand (which was another highlight of my career), and of course with H.W. Carter and Sons for their U.S. relaunch.
You're from the UK and have lived in both LA and NYC where you currently reside. What are your favorite shops in each of these place?
Oh, way too many to mention but I love the flea markets and I love retail too. I personally do not shop much online.
I like the ritual of going to a store and trying things on and experiencing the vision of the brand.
You're a big vintage collector. Where are your favorite places to go vintage shopping?
Every flea market that exists, LA, London, Paris, Brimfield, Kentucky, Tokyo... I always manage to sniff one out on my travels.
What are some of your favorite brands and/or articles of clothing?
Way too many to mention, but my most recent is a pair of Indigo dipped Chinos from Leftfield. All my Timothy Everest bespoke suits. I have a vintage British bespoke over coat from the 40’s which has a mink fur collar. The previous owner must have been my exact shape as it fits like a glove. As I said earlier, RRL and Mister Freedom are my most favourite, but I love so many others: Leftfield, Engineered Garments, Universal Works, Monitaly Post overall, most of these brands I have followed from the beginning. I feel like we all have a similar aesthetic.
Finally, what are some of the biggest changes that have occurred in the fashion industry since you've started your career?
Well trends and attitudes for sure. Online shopping has changed the whole shape of the industry. But I think mostly that the celebrity endorsement thing must change and we need to get back to letting the product speak for itself.